Article: Supporting employee journey is crucial to retaining talent: President & Group Head, HR, Thomas Cook India

Talent Management

Supporting employee journey is crucial to retaining talent: President & Group Head, HR, Thomas Cook India

Majority of the businesses suffered for parting ways with long time employees. It’s important for leaders to explain the future roadmap of the organisation and make sure the vision stays clear and gets buy-in from key stakeholders, says Mona Cheriyan, President & Group Head, Human Resources at Thomas Cook India.
Supporting employee journey is crucial to retaining talent: President & Group Head, HR, Thomas Cook India

Mona Cheriyan is the President & Group Head Human Resources of Thomas Cook India Ltd. She is responsible for the Strategy, Leadership Development, Employee Engagement and other HR functions at the Group level. With a varied experience of over 35 years across different roles such as Employee Engagement, Global Policies & Processes, Leadership development, Diversity & Inclusivity, Compensation & Benefits, HR Audit & Process automation, she has been a significant part of NHRD, NASSCOM and BMA. She is a global influencer over the enactment of D&I and other behavioural sciences. 

She is associated with TISS, Symbiosis, SP Jain, IIFT, Welingkar etc., as a guest lecturer, and a recipient of the ‘Super Achievers Award’. A keynote speaker, Mona's passion is to design, develop and deliver initiatives to help to build confidence and capabilities for women in Corporate India.

Here are the excerpts of the interview.

Four million people left the US workplace in April 2021 which some economists have dubbed the ‘Great Resignation’. How do you see this never-before trend?

Despite the logical predictions about how the COVID-19 pandemic would negatively impact the economy, many industries managed to sustain the negative impact and even grow sustainably. The pandemic has, I believe, led to an unprecedented shift in rethinking work-life balance providing new possibilities for freelancers working from home, along with an influx of remote jobs through new businesses making the leap forward. One broadly unexpected phenomenon is the global exodus of talent across organisations small and large.

The onus is on organisations to shape the work dynamics around retaining talent but, a vast majority of the businesses suffered the consequences of parting ways with long-time employees.


Rebuilding departments and catching up on core knowledge takes time. It is time for the leadership to have internal meetings openly discussing the global phenomenon with the team. Assure them that the business is prepared and now in its growth phase and it is a transitional period for the world. Explain the hiring plans and the future roadmap for the organisation and make sure the vision stays clear and you get the buy-in from key stakeholders within the company.

The larger employment landscape is changing fast with organisations competing to hire and retain best talent. How can organisations revamp their talent management strategy to win the talent war today? 

Talent Management is a critical component to the performance of any organisation. Finding and retaining talent is one thing, but the challenge is to ensure that talent is growing, adapting, and improving over time. The key is to ensure that you keep the process structured and organized and break the talent management strategy into distinct areas to make it easier.

  1. Invest in defining the company culture. It is good to first outline what your company culture needs to look like. What do employees value? What do you want to put emphasis on? What part of your culture directly affects performance? It is important to ensure everyone is on the same page before any investment is made in execution.
  2. Relook at the benefits that your organisation has to offer the employees. Redefinition of a benefits package doesn’t always mean having to spend a lot of money. Offering workplace flexibility, or even suppressing a culture of attendance and clock-watching in favour of self-management can help increase employee’s sense of ownership over their day. 
  3. Highlight or create growth opportunities in your organisation. Often, employees see no chance for growth opportunities in the organisation. This is a turnover danger zone. A lack of growth opportunities often tops the list of reasons employees choose to leave an organisation. The good news is that there is often only a perceived lack of growth due to poor communication. Leaders need to have regular career planning meetings perhaps as a part of performance reviews to ensure their workforce knows about internal growth opportunities.
  4. Focus on providing the tools and equipment employees need to deliver superior performance. Over 25% of employees do not have the tools to be successful in their jobs. Facilitating employees’ needs is the core responsibility of leaders. A culture that encourages feedback will help your entire workforce realise what their performance roadblocks exist and these can be worked on together with the managers.
  5. Show the employees that they are valued. Studies show that a small number of employees feel highly valued at work. The solution is simple; make recognition part of everyday dialogue. Yes, it should be every day. Far too many leaders let a job well done go unnoticed daily. This has been known to negatively impact productivity, engagement, and motivation, a few things that are connected to financial performance.
  6. Encourage friendships among your team. Peers and professional camaraderie are the #1 reason employees apply discretionary effort at work - not financial compensation.
  7. Peer-to-peer assessment tools are far more important in talent and performance management. Not only do these assessments give employees the chance to celebrate one another, but they also create a more realistic picture of the overall performance of every employee. Who better to judge performance than those who are with you 48+ hours every week? A manager can’t see everything or be everywhere at once. Having things such as peer-to-peer assessments make it easier for you to get an inside look while also providing your employees with some much-needed praise or criticism.

No matter the current state of talent management at your organisation, regularly revisiting and evaluating your processes will benefit your organisation in the long term.

Can technology and digital innovations help organisations and their people leaders manage talent better?

Businesses of all shapes and sizes are increasingly leveraging new technologies to improve diversity in the workplace, enhance the employee experience, retain and attract employees, increase staff engagement, drive productivity, and more.  

Although businesses have been using talent management systems and applications for years, they’re more important than ever in today’s  remote and hybrid workplace. The pandemic has also brought into sharp focus the importance of communicating with, connecting to, and supporting employees’ journeys especially in the midst of a crisis. Organisations are starting to apply some of the principles of external sourcing and customer relationship management (CRM) strategy to internal populations of talent and are moving away from reactive processes to an internal talent marketplace approach where skills, profiles and the capabilities of employees are matched to the future needs of the organisation. The CRM helps in dealing with the internal customer (the employee) much the same way that you would deal with an external customer and giving the same value of service to the internal customer.

The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in many organisations releasing themselves from location-based team and workplace norms so that they can open up their internal and external talent pools. The acceleration of the virtual approach to work has facilitated this, and while there is little doubt many organisations and employees have been pushed too far, too fast, there are more innovative work practices incubating in this environment.

Can corporations leapfrog legacy practices and build new approaches that enable highly qualified women to succeed in these dynamic markets? 

The newer companies, which have a much younger and vibrant workforce, have taken into consideration the various challenges faced by women and created solutions such as the introduction of flexi timings, extended maternity leave and pick and drop facilities. Today, they too have realised, that men too need flexibility in the workplace, especially those who have a working spouse. Many have introduced re-skilling and upskilling and other employee engagement initiatives, especially for women, to mentor them for leadership roles. Skill development facilitates high productivity, increased employment opportunities, and higher income.


This interview was first published in September 2021.

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Topics: Talent Management, #TheGreatTalentWar

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